By Richard Bhainie
Ancient teachings proffered through religion are the foundation upon which many equitable societies stand and so, President Dr. Irfaan Ali believes that religious teachings are integral ingredients necessary for a principled Guyana.
“Fundamentally, the principles that govern a society that is just, are the principles that govern religious undertakings,” President Ali said while addressing persons who gathered at the interfaith meeting during the National Day of Fasting and Prayers at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal on Friday.
“If all of us can get those under our charge to understand fundamentally the principles and the values that we must stand for based on religious underpinnings, I am convinced our society will be better, our country will be better, and we will achieve the One Guyana,” President Ali said.
As the three major religions in Guyana united to observe their respective periods of fasting, President Ali urged that they use the time for reflection and introspection.
The Head of State charged religious leaders to ensure that the value system through which they operate and preach should uphold democratic principles, equality, tolerance, peace, patience and compassion among other virtues.
“Do not waiver on these values but we ensure that these values are fundamental to the foundation of what we share in our congregation of what we charge with the people under our charge then our country will be stronger,” President Ali said.
He also reminded of the common principles taught in the different religious texts and charged Guyanese to embrace each other as a singular family and as one Guyana, where they embrace each other – rather than destroy each other.
“There is no space for division based on race and ethnicity, every single text speaks to the issue of equality, speaks about the issue of forgiveness,” President Ali reminded.
Attendees at the event were serenaded to ghazals, bhajans and hymns and the event was blessed with the presence of religious leaders from the Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths, all of whom shared a common message of love and unity.
Shaikh Abdul Aleem, Head of the Guyana Islamic Trust; Pandit Hardesh Tiwar from the Guyana Viraat Sabha and Reverend Gaitri Singh-Henry, Ordained Minister of Guyana Presbyterian Church, among others, delivered remarks.
Scores of people across Guyana also participated in observing the National Day of Fasting and Prayers; various public and private sector entities, students and other officials participated in prayers on Friday morning.
On Monday last, President Dr. Irfaan Ali called on religious bodies to unite under the banner of ‘One Guyana’ for a National Day of fasting and prayers. President Ali sees the occasion as an opportunity for people to join with each other to promote the spirit of togetherness.
The day of fasting and prayers was called at a time when three significant religious observances are overlapping this month – the Muslim community is observing Ramadan, the Hindus are observing Chaitra Navratri, and Christians are observing Lent.
“I would like all of us to fast together, pray together, and stay together as ‘One Guyana’,” President Ali had said.
The event was also attended by members of the Cabinet, the diplomatic corps, members of the opposition and other officials.